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Healthy Living

Oral Cancer

What is Oral Cancer?
Is it very common?
Can I examine myself?
What are the early clinical indicators?
How to avoid Oral Cancer?

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a disease that starts as an uncontrolled growth of cells in the mouth. It leads to disfigurement of the face, debility of body and eventually death.

Is it very common?

Oral cancer is the most common cancer in India with as many as 64,460 cases reported each year. That makes it as common as cancer of the lungs, breast or cervix. As much as 7% of all cancer deaths in males and 4% in females have been reported to due to oral cancer. The figure continues to rise rapidly because of bad oral habits such as chewing of gutka, tobacco and smoking.

Can I examine myself?

Yes, you can. In fact it is strongly recommended because early detection can greatly increase the chances of a complete cure.

  • Stand in front of a mirror in good light.
  • Open your mouth wide. Look for small lumps or swelling, ulcers, a red or white patch.
  • If you have dentures, take them out and inspect your mouth.
  • Inspect the lips with your mouth both open and closed.
  • Stick your tongue out and inspect the margin, as well as below the tongue.

If you see something that is unexplained, visit your dentist immediately. A good dentist is trained to recognise the clinical symptoms of an early oral cancer.

What are the early clinical indicators?


Leukoplakia is a raised white patch, which is associated with the constant chewing of tobacco and gutka. 2.8% of oral Leukoplakia results in cancerous growths.

Oral Submucous Fibrosis

Oral Submucous Fibrosis is the inability to open the mouth or a burning sensation or both, which affects 9 per 10,000 Indians.

Lichen Planus

Lichen Planus is a skin affliction occurring in the mouth. It can be caused due to stress and diabetes.


Anaemia is a deficiency of iron very common in India, which can lead to the development of oral cancer.

How to avoid Oral Cancer?

Since oral cancer is very common in India, extra precaution is suggested.

  • Avoid bad oral habits like chewing tobacco, gutka and smoking. These had habits increase your chances of getting oral cancer dramatically.
  • Eat a diet rich in fibre, fresh fruits and vegetables fish and dairy products such as butter milk.
  • Visit your dentist twice a year.
  • Brush twice a day and maintain good oral hygiene.


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